The only thing one can really count on in life is change. Things always change. The small town you grew up in grows and becomes unrecognizable — the meaning behind that saying about never being able to go home, I think. The home you knew is gone, and will never be back. It’s sad at times, the change, because we say goodbye to people and things and places, and the only place they remain is in our hearts and memories.
Siblings, though they may grow up with the same parents, have different childhoods. Johnny, born first, knows his parents when they were younger, more vulnerable, less sure of what they were doing. For years, maybe, he is the only child, but if a sibling comes along, then things change. And that sibling has the benefit of the parents’ experiences and they’re older as well, he has an older sibling. So his childhood, though similar, is different than Johnny’s.
Children grow up. Parents grow older. Often, the children end up with the responsibility of caring for their aging parents, as they care for their own children, and so it goes, on and on, in millions of families all over the world.
If you look at birth and death as the same point on a circle, everyone is in a different place and time in the cycle and circle of their life. The circles interconnect with other circles, some are added, some break away and are gone, either because they leave their family circle, or they have died.
Sometimes you see people who are solitary, with only one or two brushes with others, single circles going it alone.
Sometimes you see people with so many circles interconnected with theirs, you wonder how they function at all.
Most of us are in the middle somewhere, with a number of interconnected relationships with family and friends as close as family. Coworkers and people you only know for a while, or some you learn to love late, but lose too soon. People that bounce away, and you wonder where they went and what they’re doing. Sometimes they come back into your life later and it’s even more fun than it was before.
There are births and deaths. Love, happiness, sickness, and sorrow, joy and grief, often at the same time. One has a new child, but a loved one passes. One finally finds a career they love, but their children leave home, leaving a gap there.
Rarely is every aspect of a life full and complete and happy, yet we can still say we are “happy.” Often, we suffer tribulation in every area of our life at the same time, and it feels like the universe is against us, but it’s not. We’re just at that point in many of the cycles of up and down, back and forth. But no matter how bad it gets, it rarely stays bad. The Wheel turns and life goes on and things will always change. If one knows this, it makes hard times easier to bear, and tempers good times with the knowledge that one should appreciate them, because change always comes again.
Maybe I’m feeling so introspective today because of things in my life that are happening – my brother-in-law is very ill. He’s got stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Over two years ago the doctors gave him 6 months to a year. But he’s stubborn. He’s tough. It’s been good to spend the time we want with him.
But he’s been put into hospice this week. So we’re getting ready to say goodbye, and it’s so tough, especially for T, since it’s his brother and best friend. I keep telling myself that this is a down spiral just now and that it will be good again.
And yesterday, I got a letter from my youngest son, halfway through basic training. And so you see, part of me rejoices that he is doing well and going forward, growing up, learning and full of life, and the other part of me is sad with the loss of a loved family member. Life is always this way, though. Someone you love may pass, and then you meet the love of your life, or a new family member is born, or something else, good or difficult, life always moves on and the change is always inevitable.
So we must be brave in adversity and smile with joy when there is joy. And try not to feel bad for being happy and sad at the same time. When I finally pass on, I don’t want people to be committed to sadness, I want them to go on, be happy, live their lives, full of joy and sorrow and always, always change.